Advertise Follow Us
For all intents and purposes, Brendon Rockey farms in a desert where native soils have almost zero organic matter and precipitation is infrequent. But as bleak as that may sound, Rockey’s farm is actually thriving and biologically active.
Farming at an elevation of 7,600 feet with only 6 inches of annual precipitation, Rockey has over the last 2 decades built a flourishing “biotic” ecosystem that has improved water-use efficiency and encourages beneficial insects, soil microbes and carbon cycling.
Companion cropping, cover crops and flowering strips have replaced synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides on his 500-acre irrigated farm near Center, Colo., about 140 miles southwest of Denver, where he raises specialty fingerling potatoes, quinoa and certified seed potatoes in a greenhouse.
He also grazes others’ livestock in cover-cropped fields and operates an off-site farm packaging warehouse.
Although raising potatoes doesn’t allow him to utilize no-till, he says the overall focus on using cover crops, compost and…